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A league of Landon's own?

By Alexandra Petri

Last summer, some rising freshmen at the elite, all-male Landon School did something stupid. They created a fantasy sex league of local teen girls, ranking them, making draft picks, and even coming up with offensive team names such as “Southside Slampigs.” Then they did something really stupid: they put it on the Internet. An uproar ensued -- you’d uproar, too, if you Googled your teen daughter and discovered that someone picked her for the Southside Slampigs because she seemed like she’d be “fun to play with sexually.” The “sex party” the boys had been planning was called off, and their school suspended them.

Many aspects of this are startling -- including the fact that a group of fourteen year-old boys somehow believed that a “sex party” at which they could score points by reaching various bases had a realistic chance of occurring. Having once been a fourteen year-old girl, I would rate the odds of this as slim, but, then again, I never got invited to any sex parties in high school, maybe because I was too busy retaking the SATs.

But this has only contributed to the frenzy that surrounds today’s teens. Adolescence, as portrayed in the media, seems to be a dangerous realm in which you can’t turn on your phone without receiving dozens of sexts, where juvenile over-achievers run around dousing themselves with Adderall and founding small companies, pausing only to throw the occasional sex party. Now the Landon boys have thrown more fuel on the fire.

Their fantasy sex league, like the continuing “sexting” boondoggle, has become an issue due to the simple fact that all the stupid things kids used to do among themselves are now available through technology. Back in ancient Egypt, I’m sure boys at private all-male high schools used to make papyrus lists of girls they hoped to be embalmed with -- extra points for each cat who agreed to join you in eternity! -- that really embarrassed them when the temple guardians found them under their beds. In the 1800s, young gentlemen from elite schools no doubt created fantasy teams with names such as “Southside Slatterns” and “Opium-Eaters of Loose Virtue.” But because there was no Internet then, no one was the wiser. Even in the early nineties, the fantasy lists might have been confined to a ruled sheet of paper, passed snickeringly from row to row during algebra.

Now that’s over. Everyone communicates online, especially middle- and high-schoolers, so the idiotic ideas that you came up with in eighth grade are now stuck on the internet for renowned New York Times journalists to comment on and Washington Post reporters to describe as “riddled with misspellings, sexual innuendo, and offensive language.” The only thing more embarrassing than having a school administrator discover you objectify women is having Maureen Dowd notice that you routinely spell “sexy” with a variable number of x’s.

In this case, everything worked out. The Internet saved the teenage boys from themselves and the teenage girls from becoming prey, allowing the sex league to be seen and stopped before it moved from fantasy into reality. And the lesson of this for teenagers is clear. Online, there is no privileged teenage world where secrets can remain untold. For better or for worse, the Internet is full of adults, and they can see everything from Facebook photos to fantasy sex lists to that one Livejournal post about how disappointing you found the finale of Lost.

“But boys will be boys!” Not if they do it on the Internet.

By Alexandra Petri  | June 10, 2010; 2:26 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  Alexandra Petri  
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Comments

"In this case, everything worked out. "

How did everything work out? Did the young men learn what they had done was wrong, and WHY it is wrong? Were they taught not to do so again? Did they have any lasting punishment? Doubt it.

" “But boys will be boys!” Not if they do it on the Internet. "
Wow - good idea - boys - be "boys" and shhhhhhhhh don't get caught. Glad to know this would not have been an issue if they had not posted it online. Treating young women like playing cards to be collected, purchased and used for sex apparently isn't an issue, eh Ms. Petri? Just something that is a right of boyhood?

Good grief charlie brown.

Posted by: Greent | June 10, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Finally a level headed article about this absurd event.

You forgot to emphasize that this happened almost a year ago, and the only reason it was even brought up is that Maureen Dowd is on a witch hunt right now. Today's UVA murder hearing was postponed until October, so what does Maureen Dowd do? Put the foolish actions of three fourteen year old boys under the microscope. Talk about a bully. FYI, this article doesn't have the facts correct, these boys were still not in high school yet when they behaved foolishly.

By the way, something tells me that the major suspension, extensive counseling, and the publicity probably taught these kids the lesson eighteen fold.

Does anyone want to bring up something else that is not worht public attention that happened last summer? Seriously, bringing up things that were insignificant a year ago seems to be the rage these days.

Pretty pathetic, but this is the first level headed article to come out about this stupid story.

Posted by: StewBop | June 10, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Every parent should have their kids read this book, and yeah parents you should read it too. There is more harm than you realize to that behavior. "Unprotected"

Posted by: desertrats1 | June 10, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

As a boy's school that has a 'sister' school (Holton-Arms), Landon should be working to develop mutual respect between the boys and girls, but time after time the 'teachable moment' is missed. The boys directly involved get a slap on the wrist, but nothing is said to the school as a whole. And, the school seems to reprimand the stupidity of putting things on the internet, without making it clear to the rest of the school WHY what the boys did was wrong.

A lot of commentators seem to think that this is just modern times, but I think that it is more particular to Landon. Landon seems to have a continuing run of bad behavior, not all of which hits the media (for example, there was an attempt this spring to (secretly) change the theme of a dance to "CEO's and Ho's"- an indication of how the boys see themselves and their female counterparts. And the leadership at Landon seems complicit with the boys 'we are entitled to do what we want' attitude.

Posted by: kpcetal | June 11, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I completely agree with the SECOND comment on this article. First off, thank you Alexandra Petri for writing this article, it is very well written and I wish that more people could see it..lets get this in place of that B***H Miranda Dowds article.

It is very nice to finally read an article that I can agree with on this 'draft'. I happen to be very good friends with all the accused kids and find it quite absurd how they are being attacked a year after this all happened. I can guarentee that they meant no harm and that it was supposed to be all in good fun.

The so called 'sex parties' were never actually going to happen and the whole thing has been taken completely out of context. I agree with "Stewbop" and their comment and I too find it quite ridiculous how this insignificant event has become an hot search topic in the last few days.

It would certainly be nice for everyone to step back and put themselves in someone elses shoes for a change.

Posted by: liveinlove | June 11, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Alexandra Petri for writing this article, it is very well written and I wish that more people could see it..lets get this in place of that B***H Miranda Dowds article.

It is very nice to finally read an article that I can agree with on this 'draft'. I happen to be very good friends with all the accused kids and find it quite absurd how they are being attacked a year after this all happened. I can guarentee that they meant no harm and that it was supposed to be all in good fun.

The so called 'sex parties' were never actually going to happen and the whole thing has been taken completely out of context. I agree with "Stewbop" and their comment and I too find it quite ridiculous how this insignificant event has become an hot search topic in the last few days.

It would certainly be nice for everyone to step back and put themselves in someone elses shoes for a change.

Posted by: liveinlove | June 11, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Alexandra ends her article by saying, "Boys will be boys. Not if they do it on the internet"?

That sentence sounds like she is giving the boys permission to behave like miniature male chauvinist pigs as long as they are savvy enough to keep it off the internet? What kind of message is she sending?

Worse than that, when she dismisses the Landon boys behavior as typical of all boys, she demeans an entire gender. Most 13 year old boys are not sexually aggressive, entitled, nor are they without empathy.

Boys will be boys as long as parents, teachers, coaches and the media excuse what is, in no uncertain terms, unacceptable behavior-on the internet or off.

Posted by: annieb4 | June 11, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

This was sexual assault/rape waiting to happen. This why rape is still rampant in our world and women are not believed when they report it. If one of my boys were involved in this, I am not sure exactly what I would do but I assure you they would get the message and never forget that this is so bad that you can go to prison for a long time and you should. Sexual predators were all young once. Wake up people, stop sexual assault!!!

Posted by: ObservantOne | June 12, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Alexandra's OpEd is a breath of fresh air. This situation's is simply about boys not having the sense to keep their thoughts to themselves.

People—and not only teens—think about sex all the time. But publishing your fantasies, as these boys did, means that every name on the list has to join the discussion. It's imagination intruding on reality.

Maureen Dowd's absurd column, on the other hand, makes the whole sad affair a gateway to rape and murder via "predatory" behavior, which would seem to include the desire to have sex.

Posted by: Paine2 | June 12, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

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